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Allan, Ted.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1985. 142pp, paper. ISBN 0-7710-0728-0. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Patricia Sentance

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Gathered here are seventeen "family stories" that were written or published separately over a number of years. They are connected through the central character, David Webber. David was seen in Lies My Father Told Me (Playwrights, 1984) as a sensitive five year old sharing a rich and enduring love with his grandfather. More recently, we met him as an idealistic youth committed to the communist cause, who has a penchant for whores and a knack for picking the horses in Love is a Long Shot*

In this collection of stories, the delicate intricacies and complications of intense family relationships provide the framework for David's growth and maturation to adulthood. One story touches again that painful moment when death and lies destroy childhood innocence. Another captures the exciting uncertainty of youth and the ageless struggle with the doubts and fears of sexual awakening. Others tell of a descent into madness, a dreamworld killing of the father, and ultimately, a tenuous reconciliation with the self. David's journey is a stormy one that seems to have a greater impact on the reader because of the way the book is structured. Each story relates an incident or a fragment of life that is remembered for its gentle humour, its sensual warmth, or its terrible loneliness, but binding them all is the search for some deeper truth.

Through this accumulation of stories Allan succeeds in bringing another dimension to his portrait of the Webber family living in the immigrant quarter of Montreal. Taken separately, the tales also introduce a number of remarkable characters whose haunting eccentricies linger long after the reading. This work is recommended for any public library, especially if the books mentioned above are in the collection.

Patricia Sentance, Nepan P.L., Nepean, Ont.

* Reviewed XII/4 July 1984 p. 149

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